Downtown Among Tracts Up for Opportunity Zones

Downtown Among Tracts Up for ‘Opportunity Zones’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Fifteen census tracts in Mahoning and Trumbull counties — including downtown Youngstown and Warren — have been approved by the state for consideration as federal Opportunity Zones, which could lead to new investment via a program designed to drive long-term capital to distressed communities across the country.

A provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the Opportunity Zone Program and authorizes the U.S. Treasury to certify Opportunity Funds, or “O Funds,” that will be created to pool and deploy investment capital for eligible purposes.

Other census tracts chosen by the state include: Dana Street/Golden Triangle and former RG steel areas in Warren; the 422 corridor in Girard and Youngstown; the Andrews Avenue/Northside industrial, Salt Springs, Poland Avenue areas in Youngstown; the Casey Industrial Park in Struthers as well as that city’s downtown and Castlo Industrial Park; Lowellville; and the Meridian Road area in Austintown.

The 15 sites were among  21 census tracts jointly submitted to the state by representatives of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Western Reserve Port Authority, cities of Youngstown and Warren, Trumbull County Planning Commission and Youngstown State University.

U.S. investors can receive a temporary tax deferral and other tax benefits when they reinvest unrealized capital gains into O Funds for a minimum of five years. Through the program, every state can designate a certain number of Opportunity Zones, the vast majority of which will be low-income census tracts.

“We were ecstatic to learn Gov. John Kasich nominated 15 of the 21 low-income census tracts [we] submitted to the state for consideration,” said James Dignan, president and CEO of the chamber. “Our hope is that these O Funds will activate passive holdings by connecting investors to investment opportunities in our Opportunity Zones in the Valley. This program offers a unique way to encourage investment in areas that are traditionally under-invested in.”

Each of the census tracts submitted were reviewed by the state for targeted development areas, properties that are currently available, areas that experience a lot of activity and optimum site selection criteria.

The state of Ohio submitted its maximum number of census tracts, 320, which was the allowed 25% of what was eligible. The U.S. Treasury has 30 days to consider submissions.

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